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American Silver Eagle Coin

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What Is an American Silver Eagle?

The American Silver Eagle is the world’s only 1 oz silver bullion coin with weight, content, and purity guaranteed by the government of the United States. When it comes to buying silver from the United States Mint, the American Silver Eagle coin is the top choice of investors and collectors alike. Released in 1986, the American Silver Eagle coins are America’s only official investment-grade silver bullion coins and are considered one of the most beautiful U.S. silver coins ever minted.

History of the American Silver Eagle

The first American Silver Eagle coins from the United States Mint were issued with 1986 date marks on the obverse side of the coin. The Silver Eagle program consists only of a 1 Troy oz silver coin with .999 purity and a face value of $1 U.S. dollar backed by the federal government. The U.S. Mint uses images of Lady Liberty and the American bald eagle on the obverse and reverse sides of the coin, respectively. The designs never change and the only variation in the coins is the use of a mint mark on the reverse side of the proof coins.

American Silver Eagle coins consist of uncirculated, proof, and burnished options. The uncirculated, or bullion, coin has been available every year since 1986. The proof Silver Eagle was also issued immediately in 1986 with the uncirculated coin. The proof coin did have a production interruption in 2009 as the U.S. Mint was forced to suspend collectible coinage production to redirect all silver blanks to the uncirculated program to meet the intense demand for silver at the time. Burnished coins were introduced as a second collectible option in 2006 on the 20th anniversary of the coin program. The burnished coin was suspended in both 2009 and 2010 but has since entered back into production.

American Silver Eagle Design

All versions of the American Silver Eagle coin share the same design elements. On the obverse side of the coins, you’ll find Adolph A. Weinman’s historical depiction of Lady Liberty. Created in 1916 for use on the nation’s half-dollar coin, this vision of Liberty depicts her figure in left-profile relief as she walks toward the setting sun on the horizon. She carries the oak and laurel branches in her left arm, holds her right hand outstretched toward the horizon, and wears the American flag over her shoulders. “Liberty” is engraved above her head, with the date mark at her feet. At her heels is the national motto of “In God We Trust.” The reverse of the American Silver Eagle coins is just as impressive as the obverse featuring an American eagle, the very symbol of our nation’s freedom, patriotism, and national pride.

Minting History 

The United States Mint has different mintage approaches for the uncirculated, proof, and burnished versions of the coin. Under the guidelines of the Liberty Coin Act of 1985, the U.S. Mint is legally obligated to meet the demand for the uncirculated version of the coin. The bullion American Silver Eagle mintage figure is determined entirely by demand for the investment grade coin. The highest mintage figures in the program through its first 20 years came largely from the first two years of availability, but the Great Recession sent the American Silver Eagle soaring higher. The coins peaked in 2015 when 47 million Silver Eagles were issued in a single year.

For the proof and burnished versions of the coin, mintage figures are different. The Proof Silver Eagle originally had mintage caps at times, though it rarely achieved a full sell out in a given year. Eventually, the U.S. Mint abandoned the mintage caps and simply struck the coins to meet the demand from collectors. With that said though, the Proof Silver Eagle has never reached the heights of the uncirculated version of the coin. The highest mintage figure for the Proof American Silver Eagle remains the 1.4 million sold in 1986 when the coin debuted.

As for the burnished version of the American Silver Eagle, it regularly has the lowest mintage figures in the collection. The U.S. Mint doesn’t artificially hold down the mintage, but merely strikes the coin to meet the demand from the collector niche interested in the Burnished Silver Eagle. The burnished coin was popular at first, hitting 612,000 in its second year of availability in 2007. Since its two-year suspension though in 2009-2010, it has not surpassed its highs from 2006-2008. 


The proof and burnished coins are both collectible options that do have visual brilliance, but they are produced differently and have slightly different visual aspects. The proof coin has frosted, matte elements on the images of Walking Liberty on the obverse and the heraldic eagle on the reverse. The background of the proof coins is mirrored and clear in appearance.

Why Buy Silver Eagles?

One reason American Silver Eagles are favorites among investors is that the demand for silver remains stable for industrial uses. Buy these silver coins, and in your portfolio, you will have a precious metal used for everything from helping to distribute electricity to powering batteries. Coin collecting or investing in American Silver coins is also often a good choice because the global supply of silver is ultimately a limited resource even as the demand is rising. These silver U.S. coins and other silver bullion also are seen as adding balance to investment portfolios because it often holds its value as other investments falter.


Investors feel the Silver Eagle is a wise silver bullion investment. Deciding to invest in silver coins is a smart idea because the price of silver is not generally subject to changes in the stock market. Many investors add American Silver coins to their portfolios for diversity. These U.S. silver coins can help to hedge against inflation and uncertain economic times.

What Types of American Silver Eagles Are Available?

There are three types of American Silver Eagle coins available. Bullion American Eagle coins are possibly the most affordable of the three types of coins. They are primarily sold to those looking to invest in silver. The second is Burnished Eagles, which can be considered to be the rarest type of Silver Eagle coins.

Silver Eagles with a burnished finished appear less shiny and matte when compared to bullion Eagles, and some numismatists believe burnishing helps make the design more durable and long-lasting. The unique burnished finish is achieved by polishing the blank rounds before they are struck. Lastly, the Proof Eagle is made for collectors and are often valued at double the price of uncirculated coins.

Can I Purchase American Silver Eagles in My IRA?

Yes. The American Silver Eagle is considered as a popular IRA-Approved Silver bullion coin.